Crumbley says “it’s time” as he steps down at Steinbrenner

After coaching 36 seasons across 40 years, John Crumbley has decided to retire from baseball coaching. Crumbley spent 22 years at Jesuit, winning three state titles and a Baseball America National Title (1997), before launching the program at Steinbrenner and serving as the Warriors only coach for 16 years.

By Jarrett Guthrie, Editor

ODESSA – Wins and championships are often the first descriptors attached to a coach’s name, but they don’t really do the title its full justice.

For 40 years, John Crumbley has defined the term “coach” in his own way, but the term simply doesn’t do him justice.

On Monday, Crumbley, informed the administration at Steinbrenner High that he was stepping down as the Warriors baseball coach after launching the school’s program in 2010, and previously leading Jesuit’s program for 22 seasons.

“The relationships with kids and parents over the years, that’s not going to be there anymore, and I’ll hopefully see them all around town, but that is something I’ll truly miss,” the 63-year-old Crumbley said. “But physically, with my knees and my back, I’m not going to miss a lot of those things – those long 12- to 14-hour days.

“I’ve always said I’d know when it was time, and I’m comfortable in saying my baseball coaching days are behind me now. I’ve slept really well the last few days (since making the decision).”

But as for those accolades coaches are judged upon, Crumbley has plenty of those to go around. He retires the all-time wins leader among Hillsborough County baseball coaches with 818 (with just 282 losses), won a trio of state titles at Jesuit (1993, 1997, 2000), where he began his head coaching career in 1985, then added a fourth title at Steinbrenner in 2016. He has earned Hall of Fame honors from the Florida High School Athletic Association, Florida Athletic Coaches Association and the Sports Club of Tampa Bay.

But more importantly he has left a legacy of building teenagers, not just into better ball players, but into better men.

“(Crumbley) wasn’t just my coach or mentor, he was the cornerstone of my own coaching journey,” said Berkeley Prep head coach Richie Warren. “His presence as a teacher and coach wasn’t just felt, it was cherished, his guidance not just appreciated, it was revered.”

Warren, who was a member of Jesuit’s state title team in 2000, took over as the Tigers head coach from his mentor in 2007 and led Jesuit to a state title as a coach in 2014. He said on Monday, Crumbley has always had a way of pulling out the best in his players.

“As a player, he pushed me and my teammates beyond our limits, unlocking the potential only he saw in us,” Warren said. “John Crumbley isn’t just a name in his players story; he is the essence of what it means to believe in someone, to uplift them, and to inspire greatness.

“His influence in my life transcends mere mentorship; he’s the embodiment of dedication, compassion, and unwavering support.”

In his call with 813Preps Monday, Crumbley spoke about the importance he put in taking the things he learned from his mentors in those early days of coaching and passing them on. He said there were too many to mention, but among the names at the top of the list were longtime Jesuit football coach Bill Minahan, the late Frank Permuy, and Jim Macaluso.

“I tried to take the mentors I had in Frank Permuy, (longtime Jefferson Coach) Pop Cuesta, and Jimmy Mac … all those guys and more,” he said. “I made sure I’ve passed on those things to the younger coaches. That’s what was instilled in me by Bill Minahan when I was hired as a 21-year-old at Jesuit: be active, be involved. It has been a blessing to have had that role.”

King coach Jim Macaluso and Crumbley share some great stories prior to a game in 2023.

Macaluso, who having just finished his 48th season leading King High is the only longer-tenured active head coach in Hillsborough County, said their bond has grown far beyond their time spent in dugouts across a diamond from each other.

“Well, I would definitely say, and would hope John feels the same way, that we are family,” Macaluso said. “Brothers? Or like father-son? I don’t know, but we’ve become family, good friends and he is someone I respect highly.

“What he does with his baseball team, what he has done with his family, his marriage, his kids, and now his grandkids – John Crumbley is assuredly a great coach, but he’s an even greater man.”

Crumbley said he will continue teaching in Steinbrenner’s physical education department and hold his position as the Warriors golf coach this fall, saying with a chuckle that those activities will have him home before 7:30 now. Something he admits means a lot to him after the years of support from his family.

“Without the support of my wife, Lisa, I would never have lasted this long,” Crumbley said. “It’s a grind and I was fortunate that my kids enjoyed coming to the ballpark when they were little. I was fortunate to coach (my son) JJ in high school, and make time for all of (my daughter) Amy’s events at Sickles High School. But without Lisa’s support, and their support I couldn’t do it.

“I’ve been blessed with a beautiful family, pretty good health, and my grandkids, who I’ve been lucky to have come to a few ball games … but now, I’ll watch games from the stands.”

His colleagues around the county shared similar feelings toward Crumbley
(we will add to this as others reach out).

Steve Morgan, Crumbley’s longtime assistant at Jesuit and Steinbrenner:

Steinbrenner ssistant coach Steve “Stick” Morgan shared a water-cooler bath after Crumbley’s 800th win last season (photo by Mike Camunas).

“I would say his passion for the game, his commitment to excellence are the things that stand out. He is also extremely loyal – to me, and to the people who have helped him.”

Landy Faedo, Alonso head coach:

“Congratulations to John, a Hall of Fame coach and person. A great competitor. The longevity and success he’s had in baseball is amazing. He’s definitely a legend in Florida and in the nation.”

JJ Pizzio, Leto head coach:

“Coach Crumbley was a mentor to many Tampa area coaches. He was an inspiring example of what it means to be a dedicated father, a loving husband, and a devout Christian. His guidance and unwavering faith have left an indelible mark on my life, teaching me the true essence of leadership and integrity both on and off the field.”

Kris Wilken, Bloomingdale head coach :
“Coach Crumbley has meant so much to the high school coaches in the Tampa area. He’s always got a great story and great lesson to share. I’m going to miss coaching against him and wish him all the best in retirement.”

Butch Valdes, Durant head coach:

“He is the definition of Old School Class Act! I’ve always looked up to him and respected him. I love the guy.”

Miguel Menendez, Jesuit head coach:

The three men who have led Jesuit to State Championships (left to right): Richie Warren (as a player in 2000 & as a coach in 2014), current Jesuit coach Miguel Menendez (2019, 2022 & 2024), and Crumbley (photo by Mike Camunas).

“Coach Crumbley was instrumental in building the Jesuit program into what it is today. He set a foundation and legacy that we try to live up to every day. Without his vision and success, we wouldn’t be where we are today. The baseball community is going to miss him and I know I will miss seeing him on the field. He’s an even better person than coach, and I cherish every time he sends a text congratulating us on our success.  It’s one of the many reasons he was the best at what he did.”

Jason GordonSteinbrenner softball head coach and a former Crumbley assistant:

“As John Crumbley bids farewell to high school baseball coaching after achieving over 800 wins, we stand in admiration of his remarkable career. His dedication and guidance, have not only led to victories but also shaped the character of countless players. As a colleague, I am honored to have worked alongside such a passionate and inspiring coach, and I know his legacy will continue to resonate within the hearts of those he has touched.”

Eric BeattieStrawberry Crest head coach:
“Crumb dog has set what seems to be an impossible standard for us young coaches to live up to. He’s displayed professionalism, passion for coaching young players, passion for baseball, humor and a legendary amount of wins. One thing I have always respected about Crumbley is how he immediately accepted me into the coaching fraternity and made it a point to check in and support my family, offer help, and every year since I’ve started coaching he will call just to check in. Now I get to call him in his retirement to forcefully keep him posted and I can’t wait for that. Love you coach!!”

Eric Luksis, Sickles head coach:
“Coach Crumbly is a Coach that I have looked up to since I started coaching 10 years ago in this county. He was one of the first coaches to take me in under his wing as a young coach and help me with whatever was needed … His success on the field is extremely impressive, but his impact on his players, coaches and the community are even more impressive. His personality is unmatched and his presence is absolutely going to be missed in 2025.”

Spencer NunezJefferson head coach:

Jefferson coach Spencer Nunez and Coach Crumbley taking in the action from the 813Preps Wiffle Brawl in 2020.

“Coach Crumb is a guy that my dad told me to pay attention to a long time ago. I’ve kept up with Crumb since he was at Jesuit and as I got older, I realized what he got out of his players. He will always be a guy I look to for advice and how to handle certain situations. He is one the best, if not the best, to ever do it at the high school level.”

Dane MooreFreedom head coach:

“Coach Crumbley I speak for all when I say we can’t thank you enough for your presence in Hillsborough County. You were one of the first coaches to reach out and offer guidance when I took over at FHS and you gave some great advice and helped point many young coaches in the right direction. I knew you were a great coach when I suited up for you as a player, and I realized you were an even better man when you offered your guidance and support during my first year as coach. Your impact on the game and community will be a memory held by all for many, many years to come!”

Nelson Menendez, Associate Head Coach at Owens Community College (OH), Jesuit alum and former Hillsborough County baseball coach:

“John is a great person and competitive coach who gave of himself every day. From our times at alumni games at Jesuit, to coaching legion ball back in the early 2000s, to sharing times at FACA clinics, John has always been a friend, colleague and a guy to just hang out with and talk baseball. It has been a great ride, Crumb.”